Woods Bagot recently completed the installation of a temporary student space at Macquarie University, transforming a vacant library building into an area for the next generation student.

Called MUSE, or the Macquarie University Spatial Experience, the 900sqm space was designed in response to the needs of students, formulated after an extensive student consultation process that involved a web-based survey, workshops and interactive presentations.

According to the architects, the design centres on the idea that learning takes place somewhere between the panic zone and the comfort zone.

As a result, the flexible spaces are engineered to shift and change, with students given the opportunity to experience the floor through different configurations. A new, fluid mode of learning has been created, with walls and lighting running on tracks.

The environment also encourages serendipitous encounters with an aesthetic that draws on raw and industrial materials from the industrial and natural world. This includes retaining existing materials from the library as a preservation and reminder of the former life of the building.

In addition, desktops are reused and repurposed as active wall shutters on mobile walls, while the original services cupboard doors were given new life.

Other materials were revealed by stripping back added finishes and exposing the crated concrete structure along the facade line, as well as the engineered column capitals throughout the area.

The design team also customised the modular rubber furniture, which can be used in a variety of ways like building blocks, ready to be disassembled and reassembled to suit the desired configurations of students.

The space is one of three floors, with the other two designed by Bennett Trimble and NBRS + Partners, as well as a student connect zone designed by BNMH.

Photography by Peter Bennetts